The Richard Burton Archives do have figures lurking behind the scenes:
- the archives themselves, such as reports, ledgers, accounts, balance sheets, wage books and other financial documents,
- numerical records that we create, such as the number of people who visit us, how researchers contact us and how many documents are produced.
We take part in regular user surveys and are very grateful to everyone who participates in the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) / Archives and Records Association surveys. We also keep data for business purposes such as Archive Service Accreditation submissions and for reports to organisations like the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL annual statistical returns). From these figures a number of statistics can be derived, patterns and trends spotted, and predictions made.
This year has seen unprecedented changes to the normal running of the service and our website shows the message which is familiar to all:
In an effort to delay the spread of COVID-19, our reading room is currently closed until further notice. We are still answering enquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been interesting looking at the enquiries that have been received since the office closed in March and evidence of the lockdown can be found in the monthly data collected.
As expected, the majority of enquiries have been via email, although there has been a handful through social media and Archives Hub, and there’s even been the odd telephone call. This fits into the trend that The National Archives have identified.
So what are our customers wanting to know? It’s fascinating to see what documents and collections our visitors are interested in and the pie chart below shows which collections were enquired about most.
Most enquires this year, understandably, relate to Swansea University and its centenary celebrations:
- Marketing have been in regular communication and you can now see centenary video time lines for Swansea University and for its sporting history.
- Lots has been going out on Twitter from Alumni and other departments.
- The Archives has supported various celebratory events and even put out its own centenary quiz.
- The ‘Making Waves’ exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, was launched in September 2020 and the Archives, in particular Assistant Archivist Emily Hewitt, has been involved in its creation.
- Dr Sam Blaxland’s book, ‘Swansea University: Campus and Community in a Post-War World, 1945-2020’, has been published. Emily has given support throughout his research and the publication of this volume, as well as to other activities, such as the ‘must listen’ to podcast.
- Emily has also supported the online publication of the Centenary Essays, such as by providing illustrative material for ‘Making Beds with Envelope Ends: Beck Hall and Women’s Experiences of Student Life at Swansea University, 1920-1939’ by Dr Jay Rees.
- There have been family history enquiries from individuals whose ancestors attended the university.
- The Archives has also been contacted by former students and members of staff, or their descendants, wishing to add to the University Collections by depositing material that they hold.
The Raissa Page Collection, which launched in October 2019, continues to be of particular interest – especially the ‘Dancing on the Silos’ image.
Through a new project exploring Raissa Page’s life and work, former cataloguing archivist, David Johnston-Smith will generate further interest in this thought-provoking collection. Keep up-to-date with his progress by following @RaissaPage.
There’s been a surge in enquires wondering when the service will re-open. Unfortunately there is no date as yet but we guarantee we will let you know when this will be, so follow @SwanUniArchives or look at our website.
If this article has piqued your interest with all things statistical, it is worthwhile looking at the Office for National Statistics to see what is possible to do with data – did you know they even have their own archives!